Hitting a baseball is hard. It might be the most difficult thing in all of professional sports (though returning a serve from a tennis player might be there, too). On Thursday afternoon, Cincinnati Reds relief prospect Ryan Hendrix posted a video of him throwing a split-fingered change up to Aristides Aquino over at Prasco Park. It’s example eleventy-billion on just how difficult hitting is.
— Ryan Hendrix (@RyanHendrix11) July 16, 2020
There’s a few things to take away from this. First off, is the disgusting movement that the pitch shows. It comes back in to a right-handed hitter, and it drops off of the table. Two planes of movement, with very hard biting action. The other thing worth noting is that pitch is coming at Aristides Aquino from Ryan Hendrix at 90 MPH. NINETY. And it moves like that.
Hitting is very difficult. It’s more difficult today than at any other time in history. There’s a reason why strikeouts are at an all-time high. Ryan Hendrix can do this with baseballs and he’s never thrown a single pitch in the Major Leagues (though it’s hard to imagine he won’t be doing so soon enough).
Why teams may be hesitant to bring up prospects in 2020
Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic made an interesting point yesterday in his piece when talking about Joey Bart, the San Francisco Giants top prospect and one of the top prospects in the entire game, about why he likely won’t make the team’s opening day roster. It’s our old friend “service time”, but not likely the kind you are thinking.
Routinely we see teams keep players down for the first two weeks of the regular season in order to game the service time issue and get an entire additional season before a player can reach free agency. In 2020, with a shorter season, teams only need to keep a player down for five games in order to get that extra year of service time….. sort of.
This is the key point that Baggarly makes. Imagine a situation where a player isn’t available – let’s use the Reds as an example here – say Freddy Galvis has a tight hamstring and is going to be out for a few days to begin the year. In theory, the Reds could bring in Jose Garcia to fill in for however long they needed until Galvis returns – and as long as Garcia heads back to Prasco Park for more than five days at some point in the year, the team would get that “extra year” of service time. But that only applies for a 60-game season.
Baggarly notes that everything is prorated. In a scenario where Jose Garcia is up and playing for the first four days of the season, and then there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 across the sport that causes it to shut down – he would then get a full year of service time. For four games played. This is the reason, he says, that you won’t see very many top prospects making their teams opening day roster. There’s going to be some “protection”, so to speak, of the service time situation.